Biography of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, the son of an eye-surgeon and a literary hostess and writer (known under the pseudonym "Speranza"). After studying at Trinity College, Dublin, Wilde went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he achieved a double first and won the Newdigate prize for a poem Ravenna.
While at Oxford he became notorious for his flamboyant wit, talent, charm and aestheticism, and this reputation soon won him a place in London society. Bunthorne, the Fleshly Poet in Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Patience was widely thought to be a caricature of Wilde (though in fact it was intended as a skit of Rosetti) and Wilde seems to have consciously styled himself on this figure.
In 1882 Wilde gave a one year lecture tour of America, visiting Paris in 1883 before returning to New York for the opening of his first play Vera. In 1884 he married and had two sons, for whom he probably wrote his first book of fairy tales, The Happy Prince. The next decade was his most prolific and the time when he wrote the plays for which he is best remembered. His writing and particularly his plays are epigramatic and witty and Wilde was not afraid to shock.
This period was also haunted by accusations about his personal life, chiefly prompted by the Marquess of Queensberry's fierce opposition to the intense friendship between Wilde and her son, Lord Alfred. These accusations culminated in 1895 in Wilde's imprisonment for homosexual offences.
While in prison, Wilde was declared bankrupt, and after his release he lived on the generosity of friends. From prison he wrote a long and bitter letter to Lord Alfred, part of which was afterwards published as De Profundis, but after his release he wrote nothing but the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
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Oscar Wilde Poems
THE wild bee reels from bough to bough With his furry coat and his gauzy wing. Now in a lily-cup, and now Setting a jacinth bell a-swing,
Two crowned Kings, and One that stood alone With no green weight of laurels round his head, But with sad eyes as one uncomforted, And wearied with man's never-ceasing moan
Flower of Love
Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault was, had I not been made of common clay I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, seen the fuller air, the larger day.
The Ballad Of Reading Gaol
He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red, And blood and wine were on his hands When they found him with the dead, The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed.
OFT have we trod the vales of Castaly And heard sweet notes of sylvan music blown From antique reeds to common folk unknown:
Ava Maria Plena Gratia
WAS this His coming! I had hoped to see A scene of wondrous glory, as was told Of some great God who in a rain of gold
AS one who poring on a Grecian urn Scans the fair shapes some Attic hand hath made, God with slim goddess, goodly man with maid, And for their beauty's sake is loth to turn
IS it thy will that I should wax and wane, Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey, And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day?
O well for him who lives at ease With garnered gold in wide domain, Nor heeds the splashing of the rain,
Ballad of Reading Gaol - I
Version I He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red,
Beautiful star with the crimson lips And flagrant daffodil hair, Come back, come back, in the shaking ships
HOW steep the stairs within Kings' houses are For exile-wearied feet as mine to tread, And O how salt and bitter is the bread Which falls from this Hound's table,--better far
The seasons send their ruin as they go, For in the spring the narciss shows its head Nor withers till the rose has flamed to red, And in the autumn purple violets blow,
THE silver trumpets rang across the Dome: The people knelt upon the ground with awe: And borne upon the necks of men I saw, Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Under the rose-tree's dancing shade
There stands a little ivory girl,
Pulling the leaves of pink and pearl
With pale green nails of polished jade.
The red leaves fall upon the mould,
The white leaves flutter, one by one,
Down to a blue bowl where the sun,
Like a great dragon, writhes in gold.